ARTS and CRAFTS|
Paithani weaves of Maharashtra
Information from touchofclass.co.in
HISTORY of Paithani
Paithani weaving technique, popular for it's unique art and tradition
is the carrier of a legacy for over 2000 years. Born in Paithan, the
splendid capital of Satvahana Dynasty in 200 BC on the banks of divine
Godavari River, Paithani grew under the patronage of the Satvahana
dynasty of kings. Later it progressed throughout the Deccan region.
Paithani uses the ancient technique of tapestry where multiple threads
of different colours along with gold and silver threads are woven
together to form a fascinating piece of silk. In the distant past,
Romans imported this golden woven fabric in exchange for
gold of equal weight. The art of Paithani survived under successive
rulers. In fact it flourished under Aurangzeb, who not only brought it
back to its glory but also incorporated many novelties in appearance.
The well known floral motifs and AmarVell are contributions from Mughal
The Nizam of Hyderabad was also an ardent admirer of Paithanis. After
decline of Mughal influence, the Peshwas' of Pune once again took
Paithani under their wings by settling weavers in Yeola, a small town
near Shirdi. Here Paithani acquired new dimensions in both design and
Asawali, a motif of flowering vine is credited to the Peshwa
Later, in absence of royal patronage, Paithani remained an
ignored textile form of Maharashtra until the Government of India
together with the Government of Maharashtra and private enterprises took
special interest in its revival. Once again, Paithani is becoming an
iconic art of the India, erasing borders of geography and religion.
Weaving elements of life
Paithani, that carries the cultural legacy of Maharashtra, has a special
place in the life of women who are the pillars of every family and
society. The ancient textile unites entire elements of life in the form
of blessings and protection to the wearer. It is made from natural silk
or cotton with precious gold and silver metal threads that gives
Paithani the Midas touch. Particularly, the motifs that set Paithani
above all other traditional fabric, points to the special significance of
living in harmony with nature and its elements. Traditional motifs that
are still popular since its birth over 2000 years ago are derived from
nature that forms an essential part of human life.
The Bangle-Peacock motif (Bangadi-Mor) in which the bangle, as sign of
Saubhagya, represents completeness of the being of woman. Peacock, the
bird of paradise indicates beauty, royalty, wisdom, wholeness, dignity,
love and is believed to be a guardian. The Peacock also carries a sense
of energy that comes from its renewal of feathers every year. Its
association with Goddess Sarswati represents wisdom,
benevolence, patience, kindness, compassion, and
The Muniya or Tota-Maina motif symbolizes the parrot. Parrot is sign of
love and passion. Its red beak represents the red earth before the rain
or the unfulfilled desire and the green feathers representing the green
earth after rains or fulfilled desire, full of joy that forms
indispensable part of human life.
The Lotus or Kamal Pushpa is a motif that bears a close resemblance to
the murals of Ajanta caves located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. It is the
sign of rebirth. The Lotus closes in the evening and falls into water.
But in the morning, it opens up lifting itself above the surface of
water. It also represents essence of life in addition to representing
royalty, beauty and purity.
The traditional Coconut border (Narali) was the most common Paithani
border until the end of 19th century. Coconut known as Sriphal in India
is the fruit of gods. It symbolises complete usefulness, selfless
service, prosperity and generosity. Coconut tree or Kalpvirshka is
termed in Hindu mythology as the tree that grants all wishes.
The added sense of greater beauty and aesthetics in motifs such as
Asawali, geometrical figures, Amarvell and flowering wine were
introduced with the passage of time. Emperor Jahangir's great love for
nature and flowers brought many symbolic designs to this textile adding
another dimension to Paithani in appearance and increasing its
repertoire. Until the nineteenth century, most borders of Paithani
Sarees were rather simple coconut or Pankha (hand fan) heavily woven
with metal threads. Brocade borders that incorporated various motifs
with silk and jari quickly became popular that gave a unique identity to
the Paithani saree.
Depending on design, details and size, it takes an artisan one month to
two years to weave a Paithani Saree. Each Paithani Saree is a dedicated
and painstaking work of an artisan who incorporates his soul and heart
in weaving every thread that binds all elements of life in to the ‘one'
without which it is just another fabric. As a legacy of love and care
passed down from mother to daughter for generations, Paithani holds its
place as the most precious piece of heirloom that every woman possesses.
Making of the Paithani
A Paithani saree is the result of a painstakingly complex process of
weaving beginning from choosing raw silk and precious metals to the
final product. A century ago, fine silk imported from China and locally
made Jari in which gold and silver metal was woven around silk or cotton
thread used in Paithani. Today, mulberry silk from Bangalore and Jari
from Surat are used. Natural dyes from vegetables, minerals, plants and rocks are used in a
combination that gives attractive colors to silk. The raw silk bundles
are washed followed by dyeing and transfer to the reels (asari) to
separate each thread before loading to the loom. Setting up the loom is a
meticulous job of careful handling where each thread is mounted to
bring out the design, color and details to convert these into a fabulous
fabric. Ancient technique of tapestry weaving where, warp and weft
threads are woven together using handloom is still practiced which
offers control over every thread and thus making each Paithani saree
special and different. The weavers use the method of interlocking when
more than one base color is used.
Once the loom is set, there begins the journey of weaving each thread
that binds elements of life into one golden fabric. Using soft handmade
cotton pins wound with silk of desired colors and jari, an artisan with
delicate fingers dedicates himself to the path of eternal weaving that
takes anywhere between a month to two years.
Embellished with motifs and jari, Paithani takes on a personality of her
own and awaits an admirer to become a family heirloom. The whole
process is painstaking and takes a toll on vision and bones of the
artisan making his life very difficult at times when most of us enjoy
and cherish retirement and freedom.
For further details and a to view a fine collection of the Paithani sarees, visit touchofclass.co.in/
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